Audix Sound Engineer

Paul Mitchell

Joe Sample, Jonatha Brooke, Jazz Crusaders

Give us some background. How did you get started in the audio business?

Simply, I am a failed musician. I mean that in only the most positive way. Often you must fail to succeed or even be lead down the right path in life. I was the guy in the band who bought the PA and set it up and mixed the band while playing bass. (it was the 70’s – the live sound world was still just crawling) Being a mix engineer now I can’t see how you could ever even be a mixer without having been a musician.

Who are some of the people you have worked with?

I always like this question because it makes me make a list of all the musical blessings in my life… and here are just a few!
Mr. Mister, Charlie Sexton, Aimee Mann, Vonda Shepard, Jonatha Brooke, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Al Jarreau, Roberta Flack, Eric Clapton, (Legends 1997 with Steve Gadd, Marcus Miller, David Sanborn & Joe Sample), and The Rembrandts to name a few.

We know that you do both studio work and live sound. How do you distinguish them from each other and do you have a preference as to which you would rather do?

I love doing both. In principle, they are identical in every way for me except one aspect. Mic selection, placement, gain structure, etc. are the same. The only difference is that you go to a particular studio because you know the sound in the control room is accurate, and the last thing you would do is insert a graphic on the stereo speakers and start hacking! In contrast, doing live sound the only thing that distinguishes my mix from anyone else’s is how I tune the PA. I work at many Jazz Festivals around the globe and there is seldom anything more than a quick line check-in between bands. I will be the first one at the gig early in the morning with coffee in hand with a request to let me listen to the PA. There is always a “guest” graphic inserted and I tune away. Then when I am finished I make the notes on what I have done and then flatten it back out. Most of the time when I return the “flattened” graphic is untouched, which always makes me happy!

How did you hear about Audix and what has been your experience with the mics?

One of Audix’s former product specialists Rob in the percussion department is a big fan of Jonatha Brooke. While on tour in Portland he approached me with the VX 10 for Jonatha. I said sure I would love to try it. We did a soundcheck and I instantly fell in love with it. (and still, use it on Jonatha’s vocal today) After soundcheck we sat and talked about other acts I work with and Joe Sample’s name came up. Rob then introduced me to the SCX25A, the best small footprint big-sounding piano mic on the market. Joe Sample & I have tried many different piano mics over the years (20 plus together) and have never found any that we were completely satisfied with… until these gems. I have seen the popularity of these mics grow all over the world. I once did a record in New Orleans at Piety Street. I always ask the second engineer to put up the 2 most popular pairs of piano mics for me to listen to in addition to the SCX25A’s. I always give a listen to the other mics out of respect to the house but always pick the sound of the 25’s. The studio’s co-owner John Fischbach (Stevie Wonder “Songs In The Key Of Life”) heard the piano sound and said it was the best he had ever heard in his studio, asked what I was using and immediately bought them from Audix. Nuff said about these gems!

What is the set up you used for the Crusaders recordings?

Pretty standard – D6 Kick, D1 top and bottom snare, Micro D’s for the toms, SCX-One’s for overheads & audience mics, D6 for acoustic bass (DI also), and SCX25A’s for the piano. The horns were on other mics but are now in the process of changing over to wireless Micro D’s. I just use the direct channel outputs of the console right into my audio interface. The key to a successful live recording without an additional mix desk, recording truck, etc. is the right mics along with a sort of duality thinking. I try to do all the eq at the house graphic, leaving the channels flat most of the time. This makes a great recording.

We know you keep incredibly busy with all the artists you work with – what are your plans for the future?

I am now concentrating on finding new talent to record & produce in my studio. I now realize that the last few decades running around the world with amazingly talented musicians has been my own Musician’s Institute course on how to produce. When watching and learning from the likes of Joe Sample & Marcus Miller I hope enough has rubbed off for me to keep helping to produce great music in the world. Here are a couple of links to CDs I have recorded or mixed in my studio in Los Angeles.

Mixed only:

Recorded only: